What about me? When is it my turn?
Saanich News March 2005
Paul Beckow M.Sc. R.P.C.
Individual, Couple, and Family Counsellor
My experience in my family and my marriage has been anything but happy. It’s been never-ending work. One job after the other that I do for everyone else. Sometimes I feel like screaming, “What about me? When is it my turn?”
In my column two weeks ago, I said that there is nothing more important in relationship than learning the art of making yourself happy. And it is an art.
The truth is that some people make themselves very unhappy. One common way to make yourself unhappy is to deny or ignore yourself.
Without thinking about it, some people have a structure of personality that is strongly oriented towards doing things for other people, towards taking care of and pleasing others. They are proficient in that way of being – a way of being that frequently requires forgetting or denying themselves.
Some of us have done this all our lives. Somewhere in our family, very early, we learned that it was right and noble to sacrifice ourselves. It not only felt good, but we may have received a lot of strokes or acknowledgement from being this way.
This is a clear roadmap to dissatisfaction and resentment - and slow festering resentment is one of the most destructive emotions in relationship.
Remaining resentful in a relationship is like drinking poison hoping that the other person will get sick! However, most people don’t fully appreciate how their resentment infects and attacks the quality of their life.
What is going on here?
Robert and Jean Bayard, in their book, “How to Deal With Your Acting-up Teenager,” present an interesting explanation.
They say that when you are becoming resentful, without being aware of it, you are ignoring a very important voice from within yourself.
Everyone has a signal-giver inside, an inner being that is constantly sending him or her daring thoughts such as “I want, “I’d like,” “I could,” “I wish,” “I need”
Ideally there is a strong positive relationship between you and this signal-giver. You hear it repeatedly, care for it, honour it, trust it. And in turn it is trustworthy. You can rely on it.
However, the authors say, that many of us learn very early in life to ignore, even fear, this inner voice.
Instead we forsake it and rather rely on messages from outside ourselves to guide what we want and do, even believe or think.
This can become such a habit that a person not only primarily listens to and takes care of others, but now completely ignores his or her own wants and needs. He is alienated from himself.
Frustration and resentment are caused by a person’s betrayal of their signal-giver. The signal-giver feels more and more desperate and smothered the more its signals are ignored. This creates spiralling unhappiness.
It can be a little shocking to realize we have something to do with our unhappiness.
However, understanding this calls upon a new kind of sensitivity and listening for oneself. The immediate challenge here is to get back in touch with your inner signal-giver. You can do this by beginning to ask yourself questions like: “Does this work for me?” “Is this what I want?” “Am I looking after myself?” “Do I want to say no?” “What do I need here?”
This is not about being selfish, but it is about simply placing your self on an equal level with others.
When you give your inner being equal rights with the people you are in relationship with, it will actually be beneficial to them. You need to see that. Looking after your self that way will enhance the quality of their life, the less resentful and happier you are.
Donna, the most important thing you can do for your relationship is to take hold of this understanding and commit yourself to discovering a whole new possibility for yourself – the possibility of being loyal to, taking care of, and nurturing your own inner being.
As with so many new skills of this kind this could turn into a very exciting personal adventure. Good luck !
Paul Beckow is a certified individual, marriage, and family therapist. If you have a relationship, personal issue or concern, he can be reached by phoning the Victoria Family Institute at 721 2477 or contacted through his web site at www.paulbeckow.com
For personal or couple counselling, for more information, or to register for a course - please contact Paul Beckow at The Victoria Family Institute.